By Shafa’atu Suleiman
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has harped on the need to ensure every community is open defecation free, noting a lack of safe toilets threatens everyone’s health.
“Globally, the consequence of a sanitation crisis often manifests in morbidities and mortalities including those of Diarrheal infections, Cholera, SAM, etc. Daily, over 700 U5 children die from diarrhoea linked to unsafe water, sanitation and poor hygiene,” it noted.
Speaking in Sokoto at a Media Dialogue in commemoration of World Toilet Day, Chief of Field Office Sokoto and Kano State, Muhammadeen Fall lamented only 25 per cent of those in northwest Nigeria have access to toilets.
“We’re not there yet until every community is open defecation free,” he stressed. If we fix sanitation and hygiene, we can fix 60-70 per cent of public health issues,” he pointed out.
The Water and Sanitation Officer, UNICEF Ebri Eteng Ibor, presented the sanitation situation in Northwest Nigeria. With a total of 9.67 million people in these 3 States not having access to a basic toilet, it is only right to say that Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara States are among those experiencing sanitation crisis,” he noted.
“Most latrines in use are a source of contamination (crops, water sources/prone to flooding, lacks handwashing facilities), unsafe for children and provides no privacy for users, especially women/girls.
NORM 2019 reports that 66% of our drinking water sources tested positive to E.Coli contamination.”
He added, “32% of households have latrine platforms that are NOT safe for children to use.”
The sanitation officer said the World Toilet Day campaign draws attention to the fact that toilets – and the sanitation systems that support them – are under-funded, poorly managed or neglected in many parts of the world.
He noted the devastating consequences for health, economics and the environment, particularly in the poorest and most marginalised communities.
“As part of a human rights-based approach, governments must listen to the people who are being left behind without access to toilets and allocate specific funding for sanitation improvement at the community level, in institutions, and public spaces,” he urged.
“We need to explore investments from the private sector in expanding the young toilet businesses and sanitation markets reaching out to unserved communities to create sustainable sanitation systems that work for them.”
He recalled the Federal Government of Nigeria and the respective States signed an agreement to implement the ‘Partnership for Expanded WASH (PEWASH)’, which seeks to, among other things, achieve State-wide ODF status in each of these States by 2025.
“It’s important for each implementing partner to get more practical and commence implementation as committed,” the Water and Sanitation Officer stressed.
The dialogue, which had representatives of the Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara governments, highlighted efforts to promote toilets in the three states.
It emphasised the need to fast track local government chairs’ commitment (under IWASH) to co-fund the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) implementation through a central funds release mechanism from the Ministries of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.
The dialogue, which was on improving sanitation, hygiene and safe drinking water in Northwest Nigeria, underscored the role of media in promoting toilets for all.